Saturday, June 5, 2010

Pop Lock & Drop Me

Memorial Day Weekend means BBQ's, beers, sleeping in and amateur hour on all outdoor sport fronts. Central Park was packed with fun runners and tourists who stand and mouth breathe in the rec lanes. The West Side bike path was packed with day cyclists, rollerbladers and tourists who stand and mouth breathe in the bike lanes. My beloved ghetto pool had scaled back lap swim hours so that they could pack in more time for local mouth breathers to bob up and down in the swim lanes. Memorial Day weekend is a training shit show, so other than my (non) speed session with the Boss and the Cool Kids on saturday and a few slow bike rides up the bike path and around Central Park, I kept a low profile.

After weeks of runs on my own, stretching, massage, strength training for my sissy hips, breaking in orthotics and gentle whining to the Boss, I finally got the go ahead to try a session with the Boss and his stoopid fast pirate crew of runners. We met at the Engineer's Gate at 8:30 Saturday morning. While we did a little stretching and got our water, I met the rest of the crew. One other woman named K there had the same injury as me and was about three months further in her recovery, so we warmed up together. The rest of them....stone cold dropped us on a warm up jog. I got dropped on a WARM UP jog. Damn. These kids mean business and I like it! We finished our mile and the Boss had us gather 'round for instruction.

'OK guys, we're going to do mile repeats at your 4 mile race pace with 3 minute jog recoveries. Do 3 sets, and I don't want to see any stopping, walking or wheezing. I'll run with the 6 min/mi group, the 6:30's will follow, K - you take some 7:20's and just try to hold on at 7:50's.'

My splits were as follows:

Mile 1: 7:51
Mile 2: 8:00
Mile 3: 8:06

Mile 1 wasn't that bad. It was back at where I was peaking last summer pre-injury, and I just had to keep my breathing regular and my legs pumping.

Mile 2 I started to get tired. New muscles were being recruited and they weren't happy about it, but I kept going.

Mile 3 I was miserable. The negoitiations between body and brain were getting intense. I remembered a scene from a Family Guy that Nixta and I had just watched, and this exchange is pretty much what goes on in my head when I'm running harder than I want to; my body is the whiney Luke Skywalker voice, my brain keeps telling it to shut up:

Afterward, my hip flexors were not happy. My left side felt twingy and weak, and I had a feeling that maybe it was too soon for speed work, no matter how slow my 'speed work' may be. The Boss & crew were great, they all said I looked great and seemed to be running easy (Ha! Suckers!). As I left, I told the boss about my pains and he told me not to worry too much but to go home, stretch and see how I felt in two days.

On my walk across the park to get Mega Bike from its uptown stables, the twinges subsided and after my bike ride back downtown, the pain was gone, but still....I think speed work is a mistake this early in the game. I tried running again on wednesday (aka The Day I Met The Queen) and while the run was fine, I was still getting inflammation and tightness afterwards. I think I strained a muscle. The coach told me to rest for 3 days and try an easy 4 miles on Sunday. If it gets sore again, I gotta take a week off and just focus on swimming and strength training. I'll be slow coasting through the Japan Day 4 miler tomorrow with Nixta, and will update afterwards.

So after all of this, I had swim practice on Friday. Because of the Memorial Day Mouth Breathers, I hadn't been in the pool for a while, so I knew I would be a bit rusty, but considering that the last practice I had gotten some big props from the coach for my improved stroke and endurance, I didn't think it would be that bad. But this week, he introduced a new drill. This week we had to focus on the pull in the underwater catch and pull portion of our stroke.

This sucked everything out of me. I had just gotten everything else together and now I had a new element to deal with. My stroke fell to pieces and my fluid movement was gone. Coach would stop me at every lap and give me more instruction, but instead of channeling Mr. Smooth I had started over analyzing everything and was back to poppin' & lockin' my way down the pool.

This is a screen shot of Mr. Smooth. (Check out the link to see what he looks like when he's animated)

This is what my stroke devolves to when I am frustrated and thinking too hard about how to do things correctly.

Coach was very patient, but I must've looked especially pathetic, as at the end of class he patted me on my swim capped noggin and told me to meet him afterward to talk more.

We talked for about 20 minutes and he said that my years of childhood dance training were working against me - I was throwing my shoulders back too much at the top of my recovery and hand entry and it was making me too wiggly in the water, but most of all I just needed to stop thinking so much and just DO. He also talked to me about my training schedule and told me I was pushing too hard. I need to stop doubling down my workouts for a while, get more sleep and enjoy a cheese burger and a beer every once in a while.

And so, after I finish my beer (race tomorrow be damned), I'm off to bed and hopefully my run tomorrow will be pain free. If not, I have all week to work on my swim stroke in the pool. Mouth breathers & manatees - report to the slow lane, I'm comin' back.


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